The Yahoo! Groups Product Blog
Show Message Summaries
Sort by Date
Excellent analysis. I agree. In fact, once when I told a Taxi-driver that he should not honk at all,He asked me "Horn ke binaa, taxi kaise challegi?" I replied "oh! aapki taxi horn pe chalti kyaa? Mai sumjaa thaa, ke petrol pe chalti hai. Sorry" I got down and took another taxi who agreed to drive without Honking.
Dr. S.V. Nadkarni,
Ex. Dean L.T.M. Med. College,
Tel: 09320044525 / 022-24468633,
Suraj Eleganza II, Mahim (W)-400016
Honking seem to be a must in India for following reasons, here i am not talking
about honking done for some sort of entertainment or fun.
1. Because of huge population of pedestrian walking on road and not footpath, it
becomes a must, which is not the case else were in the world. (Why they walk on
road is another reason because, footpaths r not wide enough, not maintain with
good tiling, proper level not maintained, encroached by hawkers and shopkeepers,
trees, bus stops, sky walk pillars, beggar etc.
2. Pedestrian walking on road, have no road sense and often r walking while
talking on mobile, r day dreamers and suddenly would cross the road wherever
3. pedestrian, often in a group while walking on road almost covering a larger
portion of the road and when a alert is raised by honking, each one would start
moving in different direction, thus inviting a accident. Motorist have to create
a advance alert by honking on see such group who most often busy in deep
conversation or seeing a lone day dreamers.
4. to create a alert on seeing a rash driver often youngsters.
5. At signal crossing where even though it is green signal for motorist to pass
but pedestrian still try to cross.We have no laws to punish pedestrian or
cyclist when he breaks law.
6. seeing a cyclist riding in a zigzag way. we do not have separate track on
road for cyclists.
it is better to honk, rather than to meet with an accident in a country with a
very huge population walks on road and where self discipline is almost absent.
Really good work in terms of stray as pets.
It would be good idea, if we can have some appealing promotional message on FM
radios across different cities or have celebrity or common man speak about it.
But then at the same time, there should be awareness to stop abandoning the pets
and its impact on pets life and mind...poor soul..that is also a big
Helmet minus ISI mark? Be prepared to pay a fine....Lata Mishra and Divyesh Nair
If your helmet doesn’t have an ISI mark, steer clear of traffic cops. Following orders from Commissioner of Police Arup Patnaik, the traffic department has started fining bikers wearing helmets that don’t meet safety standards. In the last three days, they have fined 643 bikers.
But offenders who have been slapped with fines say that, while they knew of the rule that made helmets compulsory, they were not aware that the helmets needed to be ISI approved.
“I was going towards Churchgate station on my bike when the cops stopped me near Azad Maidan and asked me which helmet I was wearing. I was surprised as I was wearing a helmet as per the rules. They told me that I would have to pay a fine since my helmet didn’t have the ISI mark,” said Asgar Sayed, a resident of Borivali.
“They took me to Azad maidan police station. I argued with them but they told me that it’s our commissioner’s order that I pay the fine. When I refused to pay, they said that if I don’t pay the fine, they will put me in the lock-up and if I had a problem I should approach the court,” he added.
On Friday, the Azad maidan police station had fined more than 10 people for not having ISI-marked helmets.
“May be the commissioner has organised this drive for the safety of the citizen, but when they make such an announcement, they should have advertised it, making it clear that we need to use ISI approved helmets.
At least, then, we would be careful to look for the ISI certification while buying helmets,” said Sanjay Gurav, a resident of Fort who had also been fined for wearing the wrong helmet.
“At least for first-time offenders, they should have let us off with a warning. If there is not publice announcement about this, how are we supposed to know about this move?” added Gurav.
“We are following our commissioner’s orders. We are fining them under section 129 of the Motor Vehicle Act,”said Ashok Thube, a police inspector from the Azad Maidan police station.
Four kinds of call centre agents....Vandana Vasudevan
The kind of agent you end up with when you contact a call centre is a draw of lots
The Profusely Apologetic: This agent begins with sorry, when there is no need to be and continues in that vein, with heartfelt apologies for everything. You fear he will soon apologise for his existence. I spoke to one the other day while renewing my satellite TV subscription.
Me: I just renewed my subscription online. Apparently, I have to activate it through the call centre. That’s why I am calling.
Agent: I am sorry for the inconvenience. Can I put your call on hold to check?
(Later) I am sorry for putting your call on hold.
Me: How do I get Fox Crime channel?
Agent: I apologise for your not getting Fox Crime channel Madam. You have to…
Perhaps it’s a quality parameter. Three apologies a minute, whether it is required or not.
Implication: Such an agent has poor listening skills. So make sure that you plough through the maze of apologies and manage to get your issue across. An excessive display of contrition can also mask inaction and helplessness. Unlike the above example, if yours is a serious complaint, you will be left stamping your feet on the ground like a mad Rumplestilskin in the fairy tale.
The Street Fighter: If you were not far away, on the other side of a phone line, this agent would be pulling you by the collar and punching you in the face. For he’s a belligerent bull, this one. He imagines personal insults when a frustrated customer is merely vexed with an issue and the organisation, not with him. He doesn’t give allowance for the fact that an angry customer is bound to yell and demand action or insist on speaking to a senior. Instead of diffusing the angst, he stokes the flames and the conversation goes nowhere constructive.
Implication: When you hear the agent reprimand you for speaking loudly and take away the focus from the issue that’s bothering you to your manner of speech, you know you’ve got this kind. You can keep screaming that you want to complain about him, but no agent will gleefully hand over the phone to his superior to help you ruin his career. Someone’s got to back off, so although it is ego bruising, you would do well to recognise your opponent and calm down so you can state your case. Else, hang up, bravely retry and hope you get a sane soul next time.
The Over Cautious: Mother’s maiden name. Mailing address. Date of birth. We know the drill. This agent is the one who will cover more ground. He will ask for five transactions when three have always been okay. If you falter in one, he will pause dramatically till you answer correctly. You have to rack your head and come up with that exact amount you withdrew in your fifth transaction two months ago. You may rattle off your mailing address but if the PIN code of your office address has always been your Achilles heel, he’ll get you there. In another life he was in the KGB. Suddenly, you realise you’re endlessly answering questions and you haven’t even begun explaining the real reason why you called. You wake up just before he asks you when you were last kissed or what was the surname of your first crush, and you say “But I have already answered so many questions. I don’t think there are so many verifications to be done.” There’s a moment’s silence and then he mumbles unconvincingly “We have to ask Madam, else we cannot proceed.”
Implication: You can only weep and surrender. Perhaps we must take consolation in the fact that someone cares so much about the privacy and security of our accounts, that they are willing to stretch themselves, and stretch you as well, to safeguard it.
The Nay Sayer: In socialist India, this lady would have been behind a desk, deep inside the bowels of a government office like passport or ration card issuance, making life really difficult for the customer by asking him to return each time with a new document or quoting new rules which didn’t exist in the last conversation. But now we have call centres, so she’s come into her own here. This is one person who doesn’t need to learn stuff like “the art of saying no.” In fact she could write the rule book on it. Can I pay by cheque? No. Can I speak to whoever has the authority? He’s not available. Can I do it online?
No, you have to go to the branch. Can I send a letter? No, you have to go personally. Can I request for a refund? No, you’re not eligible.
Implication: To be fair, this agent is often trapped because of the rigid policies of the organization. But one can’t help detect a certain relish in her refusals. That’s why she so resembles her government cousin of yore. She’ll make no attempt at finding a solution but revels in the fact that you are in a sticky situation and she’ll be damned if she’s going to help.
The kind of agent you end up with when you contact a call centre is a draw of lots. Just like you’ve to make the best of the hand you’re dealt with in life, you have to try and achieve your objective on that call, despite the agent’s personality type. Or else you have to hang up, dial again, hope to get through, choose between a dozen IVR (interactive voice response) options, listen to piped muzak while on hold, repeatedly hear the company’s ads before finally connecting to another agent, who may be even stranger. Who said life is easy?
Vandana Vasudevan is a graduate from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and writes on mass urban consumer issues. Comments are welcome at toughcustomer@...
The way ahead for citizen candidates...Vaibhav Purandare
The work for citizen groups that want to provide an alternative to political parties in Mumbai has not ended with the BMC elections, but only just begun. The poor voter response to these groups, among them the Lok Satta Party, Mumbai 227, Mumbai Nagrik Manch and Mumbai Nagrisatta, was neither surprising nor unexpected.
That only one citizen candidate out of 79 won this time (from ward number 227, Colaba) was because the groups got in touch with voters late, and they lacked the resources to establish contact with all voters in their wards within the available time and to make themselves adequately known to their constituents.
The first lesson from the defeat, then, is that the process of interacting with voters for the 2017 elections has to start now. Those who wish to be taken seriously by voters will have to engage with them right away and continue that engagement till the time of the next poll, either as part of a pressure group that keeps tabs on civic works in a constituency or as public-spirited individuals with a deep commitment to Mumbai’s affairs. Waking up a year or a few months before the poll and expecting a victory is unreasonable.
The state assembly election, due in 2014, will be a good opportunity to test just how much progress has been made. It will also bring heightened visibility in the form of voter interaction and media coverage, thus again enabling the forging of a bond with the citizenry.
Lesson number two is that civic issues will have to be taken up by citizen groups in a major way. That is the best way to build contact with people and to slowly convince Mumbaikars that they are not without any decent options in the local elections and that it may not be such a bad idea to vote, after all. Any number of issues — old water pipelines, contaminated water, garbage, the lack of open spaces — are crying for attention, and the more these groups focus on them through ward committees, Advanced Locality Management (ALM) initiatives or plain citizen meetings, the closer they will get to people.
The third lesson is to establish communication with young voters disillusioned with the political class and get them involved in the electoral and political process. This goal is worth achieving for its own sake. At the same time, citizen groups would do well not to rely excessively on young voters, as they seem to have done up until now, but to develop links with people of all age-groups. Even 90-year-olds voted in the just-concluded election; perhaps stressing their example would be a better way of drawing in the young.
If the groups do all of these things, they can more than make up for the lack of resources and money power. It is a myth that money power alone can win you an election. Had that been the case, no citizen candidate would ever have won, but the fact that one was elected in 2002, and another one this time, is proof that a healthy interaction with voters can do the trick.
Just as we need political parties, we need citizen candidates to bring about the necessary balance of power and to come up with new ideas of local governance and administration. The only obstacle in their path can be their own perception of their limitations.
From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 9, Issue 09, Dated 03 Mar 2012
CURRENT AFFAIRS WHAT ON EARTH
Creating Happiness? Certainly Not in Puri
Its mega university project stuck in the court, Vedanta withdraws free
education to 500 children of project-affected families.
Short-lived joy The children were studying at DAV Public School, Puri
ON 30 JANUARY, Vedanta released its maiden national corporate publicity
campaign - Creating Happiness, a 90-second film created by Ogilvy & Mather -
across television channels. Binno, a little girl from rural Rajasthan and
the face of the campaign, has already endeared herself to millions. The
campaign also features 38 short films made by students of Film and
Television Institute of India, Indian Institute of Mass Communication and
other institutes, shortlisted by a jury including Shyam Benegal and Gul
Panag. (At the time of going to press, Benegal told an activist that he was
not on the jury anymore).
Understandably, thousands of victims of Vedanta's environmental and human
rights abuse see little endearing in Binno's smile. Now among them are 500
children from Odisha's Puri district who belong to families affected by the
Vedanta University Project (VUP). On 10 February, they suddenly became
dispensable liabilities in the MNC's mega scheme of things.
The campaign with a media budget of more than Rs 100 crore, to quote O&M
executive chairman Piyush Pandey, is "all about enabling India" and "looks
forward to the people of India not just appreciating Vedanta efforts, but
getting inspired to do something on their own to make India a happier
place." With that lofty goal, Vedanta's communications and brand director
Senjam Raj Sekhar told the media that the MNC "opened up all its projects
and locations to budding independent filmmakers".
But Vedanta kept at least one location under wraps. Only two of the 38 films
in the competition feature Odisha. And neither tells the Vedanta story in
Puri where the MNC began sponsoring the education of 500 children in the
prestigious DAV Public School four years ago.
GADADHAR TRIPATHI from Chandanpur, Puri district, was among thousands of
villagers approached by Vedanta for their land. In June 2006, Vedanta
Resources Ltd had sought 15,000 acres from the Odisha government for setting
up a university near Puri. A month on, the government signed an MOU with
Vedanta Foundation (formerly Sterlite Foundation) for the project.
"The company took 6,000 acres of agricultural land from us. We were told
that our children would get good education for free. We were also promised
quality healthcare and jobs. It even promised to build good schools in our
villages. We were happy," says Tripathi.
In 2008, VUP signed a 30-year MOU with DAV to provide education for 500
children from the project-affected families up to Class X.The project
website - vedanta.edu.in - reads: In an honest attempt at forging a
partnership for providing quality education to the largely deprived children
of the rural areas, the VUP of Anil Agarwal Foundation has been supporting
the children belonging to the project impacted village for admission into
DAV Public School, Puri.
'Our monthly income is Rs 3,000. How can we spend Rs 1,000- Rs 2,000 for a
kid's schooling?' asks a farmer
The students are being imparted free education and are being provided with
free transportation facilities, reading & writing material, uniforms & bags
and nutritious mid-day meals.
A Vedanta press release of 19 August 2009 claimed that 414 students had been
enrolled under the scheme.
"We admitted around 500 students by 2010-11," says DAV Schools regional
director Himansu Mohanty. "The company was paying for their fees, textbooks,
uniforms, meals, etc. They also bought four buses and paid the running cost.
Since many of these students were first-generation learners, they were not
ready for English medium. So we created an Odia section within our premises
where 350 of them were studying. Vedanta promised us three acres and a
10,000 sq ft building for this Odia medium school by 2012." Instead, Vedanta
dropped a bombshell on Mohanty in July 2011.
THE LAW Department of the Odisha government had raised objections soon after
the MOU was signed in 2006. So the Vedanta Foundation changed its private
company status and became Anil Agarwal Foundation, claiming to be a public
company, and signed a fresh MOU with the state government in 2007. But the
Registrar of Companies, Maharashtra, in 2008, called its bluff.
Bleak future Vikash Barik is one of the students who will lose his free
Gopabandhu Daridranarayan Seva Sangha, a Puri organisation, and others moved
the Orissa HC in 2008 challenging the land acquisition for VUP. Among other
objections, the petitioners pointed out that the government would have no
control over the functioning of the proposed university and its fees
structure, and that the quantum of land sought far exceeded the purpose of
setting up a university.
In November 2010, the HC rapped Vedanta for "misrepresenting facts and
playing fraud on the government". It also noted that two rivers flowed
through the acquired land, which was also in the vicinity of a wildlife
sanctuary. The ruling was simple: "Lands shall be restored to the respective
land owners irrespective of .whether they had challenged the acquisition of
their lands or not".
Vedanta moved the Supreme Court against the judgment and the appeal is still
being heard. But the MNC, it seems, has given up hope and its university
project. It has virtually shut down its once buzzing Puri office. Even the
project website has not been updated since April 2010. Its own project in
jeopardy, a deeply unhappy Vedanta Resources Ltd saw no reason to keep Puri's
500 children happy.
BUT FOR his thoughtfulness, says Mohanty, the Vedanta-sponsored students'
dreams would have ended seven months ago: "It was in July 2011 that Vedanta
intimated us that they would not be supporting these students beyond 31
March 2012. I did not break the news to the children because it would
demoralise them. As the new educational year is drawing close, I had to
issue the circular last week."
According to the circular, students will now have to pay for everything -
except for school fees which, thanks to Mohanty, the DAV Trust has waived
for now. From textbooks to uniforms to school bus, the new arrangement will
cost each student more than 1,000 a month. "We are all farmers. Our monthly
income is Rs 3,000-Rs 4,000. How can we spend Rs 1,000-Rs 2,000 for a child's
schooling?" asks Tripathi, whose son Prabhakar is in Class III.
Purno Ranjan Swain, from Podi village in Puri district, gave four acres to
Vedanta and now runs a small shop. His son Aryan is in Class III, studying
English medium. With a monthly income of less than Rs 3,500, he sees no
future for his son at the DAV Public School. "Almost all these kids will
have to leave the big school now," he says.
To apparently smoothen that exit, Vedanta, the DAV circular says, will
provide each student "a one-time assistance of Rs 2,000 to facilitate the
transition". For those who manage to stay on, the DAV Oriya medium school
will now be limited to Class VIII. "I know the promise was of education till
Class X. But Vedanta has not given us the land meant for the Oriya school
without which the school will not be acknowledged and our students will not
be allowed to take the board examination anyway," explains Mohanty.
Puri District Collector Arvind Agarwal says he is yet to look into the
matter: "The company has never informed me about the decision to discontinue
their education programme. Perhaps they consider the scheme as part of their
university project that has not taken off yet."
The district administration had coordinated with Vedanta for its university
project-related corporate social responsibility activities in 2007-08.
Jayant Das, president of the Orissa Bar Association and counsel for the
petitioner in the HC case, says the MNC has no justification for linking the
fate of a particular project to its commitment to social welfare.
"It is not the fault of those children that Vedanta's lies were nailed by
the HC. How could they put some children in a school that is beyond their
means and then just abandon them?" questions Das. "With this decision,
Vedanta has revealed that social welfare for the company is only a tool to
lure and mislead people."
Contacted by TEHELKA, Vedanta's Raj Sekhar denied that the MNC had "anything
to do with DAV in Puri" before promising to "get back after checking the
facts". But of course, he did not, not in the middle of an ad blitz.
Meanwhile, little Binno continues to spread happiness on television.
Jay Mazoomdaar is an Independent Journalist.
NCR dishes out waste-food recipe.....Sanjeeb Mukherjee
15-20% of wastages at social gatherings marriage is the main culprit, says study
Next time you get a wedding invitation, don’t be surprised to see a pictorial representation urging you not to waste food.
Such a moral persuasion could become a reality if recommendations by a study conducted for the Ministry of Consumer Affairs are implemented. The Centre for Consumer Studies under Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA) has suggested steps such as pictorial messages asking people not to waste food and mandatory packaging of unused or unserved food in hotels and restaurants as solutions to stop wastage of food at social gatherings.
The report, Assessment of Wastage of Food and Ostentatious Behaviour During Social Gathering, however, does not suggest any legal control on the number of guests at a function. Such a rule was in force in 1960s and 1970s. There was also a cap on the number of dishes.
The Assam Guest Control Order, 1966, and the Mizoram Guest Control Order, 1972, capped the number of persons at wedding or funeral feasts at 100. Many states also executed similar orders then.
The first-of-its-kind analysis on the level and extent of food wastage in social gatherings commissioned by the consumer affairs ministry has found that 15-20 per cent of the food that is served in social gatherings is wasted, of which maximum wastage takes place in marriages, followed by seminars and conferences.
“Taking into account the population of the country and volume of social functions being organised, the wastage is on a higher side,” the study says.
Indians spend around Rs 3 lakh crore on weddings every year. If that much amount is spent this financial year also, it would mean 3.37 per cent of the country’s GDP, according to advance estimates, for 2011-12.
Almost 87 per cent of the respondents in the study said that wastage is more in urban areas and less in rural areas.
The analyses was done on the basis of a five-city survey in Delhi, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Noida and Faridabad and is based on responses of around 1,000 caterers, hoteliers, wedding planners, waste management staff and public.
The maximum food wastage is at buffet system, while the least quantity of food is wasted when food is served by family members. “Almost 75 per cent of the respondents said that food wastage is high in the buffet system, which is a western method, and 44.1 per cent said there is no wastage in food that is cooked and served by the family members,” notes the report.
In the buffet system, guests can always help themselves to a second serving if they like anything in particular, but many don’t do this and fill their plates once and for all, it added.
The study has concluded that wastage is higher when the number of dishes served is more and wastage is the least when less number of dishes is served.
“The main course in a typical middle-class wedding or function comprises 10-12 vegetable dishes, different types of dal, pulao and breads, while in the upper strata of the society, the menu list goes up to 100-150 items,” the report states.
Among all the food served in social gatherings, vegetables, chapattis and rice are the most wasted.
“By taste and habit, Indians like eating hot food. If chapatti or roti is not hot, they will not eat it, hence wastage is more in such items,” the report says.
The most disturbing fact is that most of the wasted food is thrown in garbage bins making them unusable even for animals sometimes. In hotels and restaurants, the leftover food from plates is sold as animal feed for pigs and other animals at Rs 22 a kg.
Govt can’t explain 1,200cr scam
Why Did You Suffer Losses In Pulses Import While Pvt Cos Made A Killing: PAC
New Delhi: The government has been unable to explain why public sector firms imported pulses at a loss of 21%-30% a year from 2006 to 2011, adding up to Rs 1,200 crore, while private importers did not appear to have suffered such a misfortune.
Questioned by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee about the ‘pulses scam’ revealed in a Comptroller and Auditor General’s report, senior commerce and consumer affairs officials have no answers about the discrepancy between loss-making government importers and private concerns.
About one-third of India’s pulse imports are sourced by government concerns like Nafed, which then tender the legumes on arrival, a process that has apparently benefited a clutch of four to five private parties. Despite government subsidies, prices have remained high while some private interests profited.
Panel members asked commerce secretary Rahul Khullar and consumer affairs secretary Rajiv Aggarwal why the government had been hit by a double whammy having to pay subsidies while the professed objective of controlling prices and offering relief to consumers was not achieved. The PAC did not question the policy as importing foodgrain at a loss to the government can be seen as intended to ease market distress. Its implementation is seen to be not only tardy, but also impaired by ‘corruption’.
The opposition has demanded an explanation for the irregularities that date to agriculture minister Sharad Pawar’s stewardship of the food and public distribution ministry and the CBI has begun an inquiry. State-owned trading agencies imported 30.04 lakh tonnes and sold 26.95 lakh tonnes of pulses and the CAG has said prices offered by bidders were substantially lower than the import prices paid. A loss to the tune of about Rs 900 crore was incurred on account of yellow peas that continued to be imported despite negligible demand.
|Vithal Kalid Education and welfare trust working for Education , welfare.|
We are planning to make one short film on the life of children who stay at footpath, their life etc in Mumbai. This film will be send to short film festivals at Goa, Mumbai, Pune etc. We are planning to established director for the same
Approximate budget of the film would be Rs,5 Lac
We request NGO , Donors to please Finance the film, we can even thinking of refunding the amount if we can sale the film at festivals.
Please call us on 91-9820317150
ŕ¤¶ŕĄŤŕ¤°ŕĄ€ ŕ¤¦ŕĄ€ŕ¤Şŕ¤• ŕ¤µŕ¤żŕ¤ ŕ¤˛ ŕ¤•ŕ¤ľŕ¤łŕĄ€ŕ¤¦
ŕ¤®ŕ¤°ŕ¤ľŕ¤ ŕĄ€ ŕ¤®ŕ¤ľŕ¤Łŕ¤¸ŕ¤ľŕ¤¨ŕĄ‡ ŕ¤®ŕ¤°ŕ¤ľŕ¤ ŕĄ€ ŕ¤®ŕ¤ľŕ¤Łŕ¤¸ŕ¤ľŕ¤¶ŕĄ€ ŕ¤®ŕ¤°ŕ¤ľŕ¤ ŕĄ€ŕ¤¤ŕ¤š ŕ¤¬ŕĄ‹ŕ¤˛ŕ¤ľŕ¤µŕĄ‡
Gain is ultimately gain to the Consumers as they dont have to bear the cost of power lost. Power lost due to theft is not surplus available to consumers. It is lost and not saved. The real gain is in the efficiency in transmission and distribution and finding ways and means to conserve power during slack hours. Again let us not be carried awat by the statics of gain in revenue. It is the result in many cases by metering. There is a spate of increase in bills due to faultyy meters. If the Journalist reporting stories based on press releases goes a little deep in customer complaints of BEST he will realise that it can be attributed to a particular brand of electronic meters. Delhi too had the experience. The bipolar metering measures even reverse current due to improper undedicated Neutral connections. Let us not be fooled by dubious claims.
The real gain will be if we devise ways and means to even out demand. I don't know if anything is done in this regard.
Giving free unregulated power to Farmers is counter productive. It is one single factor to reduce Ground water level apart from other misuses. To startwith it has to be given only on non peak period and with a cap. Even this may be staggered.
If the statistics are given in meaningful manner the gains will be realistic.
Another suggestion is age old Hungarian Kando system to be deployed. Stop free Power to farmers for water. Store water during slack period directly by the Power supplier and give it to Farmers as and when required. I hardly see our fellow engineers doing anything except white lies.
With due regards and apologies to well meaning stalwart RTI activists and my fellow engineers and consumer Activists.
Electrical & Industrial Engineer & Consumer Activist
My congratulations to Karmayog for posting the well written report by Ms Swati Deshpande of Times on Rise and Fall of Singh and sons. For Singh it is not the first slap. His KODA connection and wth a DuBaious connected Reality had costed him a Parliament Seat. But will Ms Swati find out why he was made Chief of City Congress. SURELY he has many other rotten eggs in the basket. Former CMs now in the Centre close to the seat of Power. When will the bell toll for the chain? Let our friends in fourth state be also proactive as a poor brave Activist our hero Mr. Tiwari.
It is high time for election reform to cut down collosall waste of National assets. To start with a winning candidate should atleast get 50+% votes polled. State should fund the candidate. Deposit should be twice the fund. This will prevent just for fun candidates and the winning candidate too be truly representative. Voting should be compulsary. Excuses should be filed in advance. No AWOL.
I have come across few people asking for the various tax concessions received by differentially able person and their family members. I have written an article, highlighted some important provisions for benefits that can be claimed by differently able person (including minor) and their family members.
Please do Share and forward (Link or Attachment) to the people who can make better tax planning for the year ended March 2012
CA Chirag Chauhan
Social services sector hires most in 2011....Piyali Mandal
Hiring activities in the non-governmental organisation (NGO) sector have increased over 60 per cent in 2011 compared to 2010, even as they have come under the government scanner for pushing alien agendas in the country.
Overall hiring activities in the social sector, which includes NGOs, sustainability arm of big corporates and micro finance companies, increased by 30-40 per cent in 2011. The addition of manpower in the sector happened, even as the overall hiring activities in some of the corporate verticals like transport, media and government had gone down last year.
The Monster Employment Index India said that 21 of the 27 industry sectors that it monitors had registered expansion in recruitment activity between January 2011 and January 2012 by only 6 per cent. Of all the sectors, NGOs/social services sector hiring exhibited the highest annual growth, according to the data from job search firm Monster India.
A dipstick survey of around 1,000 firms, including non-profit organisations, by MyHiringClub, shows that the sector had added 11,459 workers in 2011, compared to 6,459 in 2010. In case of NGOs, MFIs and other non-profit organisations, hiring in 2011 was 4,984 compared to 2,968 in 2010.
“It has been observed that hiring in social sector is an ongoing process as the sector (to a large extent) is not affected by Sensex movements, unlike other sectors. The main aim of firms in this sector is not to make profits but to deploy funds in the right places and projects. During the beginning of the year, funds are allocated to social firms which they have to deploy in defined time lines. For example, two years, three years or five years, and hence the immediate variations in the economy do not have instant adverse affect on hiring in the social sector,” Sunil Goel, director of executive search firm, Globalhunt, said.
The corporate responsibility initiatives of companies have also triggered social sector hiring. For instance, in the Vedanta Group, the number of employees working on community programmes has increased by around 12 per cent from 2010 till now. The increase from 2005 till the current year is close to 70 per cent.
“The Vedanta Group has been involved in various community initiatives for several years now. We continue to add more projects and geographies and have therefore been hiring people who are trained in community development, environment, health and sustainability. We work very closely with over 160 partner organisations, including 82 NGOs,” a Vedanta spokesperson said.
Even for companies like auto giant, Maruti, and beer maker, SabMiller, which have very small corporate social responsibility (CSR) teams, the tie-ups with NGOs and other social activities have gone up considerably. Other firms, which have ramped up hiring in 2011 include Janalaxmi Financial Services (MFI), Sahayata MFI, CRY, Smile Foundation, Tata Steel (CSR Division), Hindalco (CSR Division) and Hindustan Zinc (CSR Division) among others.
“A higher number of companies are hiring social sector professionals, thanks to increased corporate philanthropy, higher CSR activities, focus on rural consumers and more partnerships with government. There has been an average increase of 30 to 40 per cent every year in social sector hiring activity. Hiring in social sector is mostly in tier II and III cities. This year also we are expecting a 25 per cent increase in hiring activity in this sector,” Rajesh Kumar, CEO, MyHiringClub.com and NriJobPortal.com said.
Here Comes the Hotstepper
Buffaloes walk the ramp in Haryana
The ramp was thrown open for the best-shaped, best-looking and best-performing (or milk-yielding) bovine models. At a ramp walk of buffaloes in the country — organised by the department of animal husbandry, Haryana, in Jind — some 30 murrah buffaloes from across the state showed up. Transported to Arjun stadium from their villages for the “Murrah on Ramp” show, they fetched their owners cash prizes totalling Rs 2.2 crore. “We want to send out the message that Haryana’s murrahs are the largest contributors to milk production in India,” said Dr KS Dangi, director general of the department.
The participating buffaloes were among the “best” in the state, having won several competitions over the years. Like Golu, a bull that won the national livestock show (which judges bulls on their masculinity, like alertness, stoutness of neck, and testicle size) several times. Golu’s owner, Narender, of Didwari village in Panipat, earns over Rs 5.7 lakh per year from his bull’s insemination. There was also Dhanno Rani, owned by Hoshiar Singh, a retired teacher of Singhwan village in Hisar. Dhanno is known as “Haryana’s beauty queen” for having won the state-level murrah beauty contest four times in a row since it began in 2009. At Murrah on Ramp, she came on to the stage in her shiny black skin (oiled for a week; hair trimmed and shampooed a day before), with a red belt fastened around her mouth, and the gold medals that she won in the past adorning her neck.
The two-hour ramp walk was witnessed by about 20,000 farmers. Buffaloes, with their respective owners, walked up and down a sloping 80-feet-by-8 feet ramp for two minutes each, during which large screens showed the buffalo walking, with a commentary on its achievements. “We want to tell farmers that dairy is a viable occupation,” said Dangi.
A true murrah, he said, has a thinskinned, muscular and jet-black body. The only spot of white is a two-inch tuft of hair on its tail switch. Its horns are so curly that even a 25 paise coin can’t pass through it. A female murrah should also have “good udder placement” and good milk yield. The highest recorded milk yield by a murrah is 31 kg in one go. The department holds yield tests through the year; state winners then contest at the national level.
A murrah is costly. An average murrah, which gives 15 kilos of milk at one go, costs Rs 6,000 per kilo of the yield (or Rs 90,000). Beyond that, there’s no fixed rate. Dhanno, which yields 23 kilos at one go, costs Rs 15 lakh.
Beauty does come at a price.
Eco-friendly boxes made by people with special needs are cute and can
be used to gift biscuits and chocolates. Call Shraddha Charitable
Trust in Mumbai on 9820904079.
Sub.: gift boxes needed from NGOs
I was just going through your website.Actually we are looking for some
items like gift boxes to be ordered from NGO so we are looking some
of them .
I am from New delhi and working in a Hotel .
Can you help me with this and give me some information like number or
mail Id of some NGOs who can fulfill my requirement and I can contact
I will be highly grateful to you.
Vinita Balyan <Vinita.Balyan@...>
What ails microfinance?....NS Ramnath
There is no proof that microcredit alleviates poverty; on the other hand, it can make the already risky lives of the poorest even riskier, says researcher David Roodman
In the post-implosion analysis of the microfinance sector in Andhra Pradesh, one entity came out virtually unscathed-the idea that microfinance is basically a force for good. The argument was that microfinance has the potential to alleviate poverty and empower people, and the real problem is with a few unscrupulous or greedy microfinance organisations. The solution therefore was better regulations-such as capping the interest rates and increasing transparency.
Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and winner of the Nobel Prize, for instance, has put the blame squarely on the profit-seeking microfinance companies and their compulsions to grow fast at any cost. In an interview to Microfinance Focus recently, he argued that commercial firms should not use the term microfinance, so that customers know it's different from the ones offered by social enterprises. A few days later, P.N. Vasudevan, MD of Equitas, a microfinance company, defended for-profit companies saying the problem had nothing to do with the constitution of a company, but with how they behave on ground. The underlying assumption is that microfinance per se is good, but there could be rogue or fair Microfinance Institutions (MFIs).
It's easy to see why this assumption is prevalent. Literature on microfinance is full of anecdotal evidence of how customers started small businesses, earned more, sent children to school and so on. The view even had an academic backing. A study by Mark Pitt of Brown University and Shahidur Khandker of the World Bank, supported these conclusions. There were many stories that showed women-the predominant customers of MFIs-felt empowered by the access to credit.
Yunus captured both the mood and the argument in his Nobel Prize lecture. He first felt the power of microcredit when he helped about 40 women who were struggling to repay loans, by paying an amount of $27. "The excitement that was created among the people by this small action got me further involved in it. If I could make so many people so happy with such a tiny amount of money, why not do more of it?"
Over the last 10 years, a researcher, David Roodman, now a senior fellow at Washington D.C.-based Center for Global Development, has been looking at the phenomenon of microfinance across the world. What he brought to the table was a good amount of scepticism, and what he found might not go down well with many in the industry. He looked at microfinance using three frameworks: Development as escape from poverty, development as freedom and development as industry building. Roodman found that there was no evidence for the first, mixed results for the second, and a strong case for the third.
Roodman started his inquiry into microfinance by looking at the study by Pitt and Khandker. When he tried to replicate the study, along with New York University professor Jonathan Morduch, he found that the widely cited paper did not succeed in proving that microcredit alleviated poverty. Two further randomised evaluations made by others did not find any impact on poverty for 12 to 18 months. There was a lot of hype, but little evidence of microfinance raising people out of poverty. "India is improving economically, and that's not because of tiny loans, but because of the broader changes in the economy. I don't think we should believe that financial services to the poor is going to be economically transformative," he told Forbes India.
But proponents of microfinance have argued that access to credit empowers women, and that's a worthy goal too. Roodman found the evidence to be mixed. Some women found doing business in public liberating. But those who failed to repay loans, found the peer pressure too constraining. "It appears to me, the kind of microcredit model that has dominated in India, the group-based microcredit is the most problematic in development as freedom," he said. Microcredit is like any other loan. If you take it in moderation, it helps, but when you take it in excess, it actually reduces your freedom.
Where microfinance works best is in industry building-not in turning clients into entrepreneurs, but in building microfinance institutions that compete, innovate, create jobs and cater to the poor. Roodman cites KGFS (Kshetriya Gramin Financial Services), a low-cost, branch-based model being piloted by Chennai-based IFMR (Institute for Financial Management and Research) Trust. KGFS doesn't just give microcredit, but also a range of financial services including savings and insurance. It offers savings product in the form of money market mutual fund and by innovating on the process, bringing the transaction costs close to zero.
That is a key learning-to move beyond credit and offer other products. MFIs that offer both savings and loan products tend to behave more responsibly, and avoid excessive growth. Perhaps, the most important contribution made by Roodman to this field is the nuanced way he urges one to think about microfinance. The question to ask is where microfinance works best. Conventional wisdom says it is good at reducing poverty and empowering women. But, he argues with evidence, that it's actually good at building dynamic industries that offer inherently useful financial services to the poor.
Roodman's recommendations for aid agencies and policymakers flow from this conclusion. He discourages lending efforts to the poorest saying credit would make their already risky lives even riskier. Since access to finance is inherently useful, he urges supporting any move into taking deposits, insurance and money transfers. At the same time, since too much credit comes with risks both to customers and the organisations, he suggests reducing support for microcredit.
Given these views, one would have expected a staunch supporter of microcredit like Yunus to vehemently disagree. Yet, when Roodman published a book, Due Diligence: An Impertinent Inquiry into Microfinance, in January 2012, one of the most enthusiastic endorsements came from the Nobel laureate. In the world of ideas, there is always a demand for cool, evidence-based analysis.
Flickering hope....Dearton Thomas Hector and Anand J.
The Ministry of Power's nationwide drive to replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps has gone awry, but may recover.
In a highly ambitious energy saving effort, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), a statutory body under the Union Power Ministry, launched a project in February 2009 to replace 400 million incandescent lamps (ICLs) - the conventional 'light bulbs' - with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) across the country. It is estimated that, once achieved, this will save the country 6,000 megawatts (MW) of power, or around Rs 25,000 crore. Called the Bachat Lamp Yojana (BLY), the scheme envisages providing two CFLs - of 14 or 16 watts - which cost around Rs 70 each when bought in bulk, to every electrified household, at the highly subsidised price of Rs 15 per lamp, in exchange for two ICLs.
The price was set in a bid to distribute CFLs at virtually the cost of an ICL. Obviously, the CFL would have two more advantages: a 16 watt CFL provides the same amount of light as a 60 watt ICL, and would thus cut down the household power bill; the CFLs would also last longer, since they have a lifespan of 6,000 to 10,000 hours, while an ICL's maximum lifespan is 1,000 hours.
Ajay Mathur, Director General of BEE, has set a personal example by using only CFLs and energy-efficient light emitting diodes (LEDs) both in his office and at home. However, that is clearly not enough to propel the project. In the three years since the BLY started, only 25 million CFLs have been distributed. In the last few months, work has been almost at a standstill. "I could have been happier," says Mathur.
What went wrong? The government had intended to recover the Rs 55-odd subsidy per CFL distributed by taking advantage of a global scheme called the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), under which developed countries - the ones that have made commitments to lower carbon emissions by fixed amounts - can buy carbon credits by funding clean energy projects in developing countries. It hoped the developed countries - as well as global financial institutions which trade on the carbon exchange - would fund the BLY to stock up on credits. What it overlooked was that the scheme was slated to end in December 2012, as a result of which, in the preceding months, the carbon market crashed, resulting in developed countries and financial institutions losing interest.
For the last few years, the price per tonne of carbon dioxide emission reduction had varied between m15 and m25 ($19.5 to $32.5). By mid-December last year it was down to m6.5. "The carbon market crash stopped all our projects because it became difficult to subsidise CFLs," says Mathur.
However, in the nick of time, the climate conference at Durban, South Africa, held from November 28 to December 9 last year, decided to extend the CDM to 2017. The result: the market is stirring again, which may give the BLY another chance. "There was uncertainty for the past six to seven months, but prices have already started moving up and may go up further," says Ashok Lavasa, Additional Secretary in the Power Ministry.
The volatile carbon market, however, is not the only hurdle. Private manufacturers supply the lamps, which are then provided to households mostly by the distribution companies, or discoms, which supply power in different regions. Neither the suppliers nor the discoms are keen on the project, since payments in carbon credit-related projects take three to four years and that holds up subsidy reimbursement.
"There is no money in it and the scheme has remained a nonstarter," says Sunil Sikka, President, Havells India, a leading CFL manufacturer. Discoms, many of them already in the red, are also apprehensive of a scheme that lowers customers' power bills, fearing their own revenues could also be hit.
Not surprisingly, BLY has taken off only in five states: Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab and Delhi. Only Kerala and the city of Bangalore have so far achieved their targets. In a concerted three-month drive, Kerala replaced 13 million ICLs with CFLs, (see Solitary Beacon).
While no one faults the objective of BLY, experts have questioned the strategy of depending on the carbon market. "It can never be a stable project as long as it relies on the volatile carbon market for funding," says Suresh Prabhu, former power minister. Praful Bidwai, author of The Politics of Climate Change and the Global Crisis, is critical of the CDM itself, which, he maintains, allows developed countries to get off lightly, since reducing emissions in their own regions would cost them much more than funding clean energy projects in developing countries. "Schemes like BLY, which depend on CDM, are thus adding to the problem of global warming rather than ameliorating it in any meaningful manner," he says.
A few private companies have also entered the distribution fray. Energetic Lighting India, a joint venture between investment firm Energetic Lighting, China-based CFL maker Yankon and carbon credit financing company C-Quest has taken on the task of replacing 13 million ICLs with CFLs across Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, West Bengal and Delhi. In another effort, unconnected with BLY, and eschewing CDM funding, Reliance Energy is replacing ICLs with CFLs in Mumbai.
Additional reporting by Anilesh Mahajan
The only state to have completed implementing BLY is Kerala. The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), sourcing CFLs from Philips, distributed 13 million of them across the state in a concerted three-month drive ending April last year, which reduced the state's power consumption by 300 MW, or 10 per cent.
How did KSEB succeed where others failed? It launched a massive publicity drive highlighting the advantages of using CFLs. Yet, then KSEB Chairman, Rajeev Sadanandan, refusing to take any credit, says: "There was strong political will and a consensus.
Even police stations acted as distribution centres." Equally modest, K.M. Dharesan Unnithan, Director of the state's nodal agency for energy conservation, the Energy Management Centre, maintains the state had little alternative. "There was a power deficit due to the failure of the monsoons in 2009," he says.
"Since we had no money to buy power, the only solution was reducing consumption." Jesse Dennis, 46, a homemaker in Kollam, was living in a rented home when she got the two CFLs the KSEB was distributing. "I liked them so much that in my own house, which I moved into a few months later, I have installed only CFLs," she says.
Wasteland to Wonderland.....Ranjit Lal
How a devastated patch of land was turned into the bountiful Yamuna Biodiversity Park in Delhi
Way back in 2002 or 2003, when I first visited the area that the Centre for the Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems (CEMDE) of Delhi University had been given by the DDA to develop into a biodiversity park, north of Wazirabad, I thought it was one of the most harebrained ideas of the new millennium. The area — 157 acres — was not degraded — it was devastated, the sort of place where you would test to destruction battle tanks. Huge mounds of sandy earth and mud, a few spindly bushes and trees, that’s it. Here, they wanted to develop a park which, according to their mission statement, was “to serve as a repository of biodiversity of the Yamuna river basin, with ecological, cultural and education benefits for the urban society and having conservation values.” Talk about being ambitious!
What I hadn’t taken into consideration, was that a deviously cunning and scientifically clinical battle plan was going to be put into action, devised by Professor CR Babu of Delhi University and his team. Ironically their first major enemy was the soil itself, ferociously saline, sandy and hostile. But then there were plants they knew about, grasses and legumes, which leach salt from the soil. Eventually, the soil was made more amenable to supporting flora. Now the rest of the plan could be put into place. The various ecosystems prevailing in the Yamuna river basin had been researched and studied and what they now did was to replicate these in various modules in the park. Today there are 20 such modules ranging from grasslands and acacia woodlands to wetland communities and tropical thorn forests. Two rain-fed water bodies were created, a winding shallow water body and a large deep water body.
Word must have got around the animal kingdom: Here at last was a place, where there was food, water and shelter. Good food too. In the large water body for example, a menu of aquatic plants, which ducks thrive on was provided, so the ducks came in droves every winter (over 5,000 this winter).
Back in 2002, there were four species of mammals, going up to 18 last year, including the civet (which, it is thought may be earmarking its territory), wild boar, and porcupine. In the beginning, there were 27 species of birds; last year, the tally was 189. Insect species shot up from 39 to 298. A free-flying butterfly conservatory was set up and as many as 60 species of butterflies have been recorded.
It’s a two-way street because the presence or absence of a particular species is often an indicator of the prevailing environmental conditions. For example, the jewel in the crown of the park as far as migratory ducks go, is the flamboyant red-crested pochard; a bird that is particular about clean water. Over 200 have come this year and this is the only water body around Delhi that they visit. The presence of the dark-and-light-blue pied paddy skimmer dragonfly is another such indication.
Apart from conservation, education is high on the park’s priorities. Groups of schoolchildren (more than 5,000 last year) and college students are regularly taken around the park by members of the staff. The interpretation centre itself is a place you can spend an hour or more easily. Certainly, the park is a wonderful place to introduce children to migratory birds; you can stand at a vantage point at the edge of the large water body and pick off the species one by one right in front of you. A hide for photography and observation has also been set up, but you will need a minimum of two mouse-quiet hours there to reap the benefits. It takes the ducks about half an hour to forget that they saw you creep into the hide and not creep out. But then they’ll drift up close, dozing and murmuring and you can appreciate their colours and conversations properly. The park is not open to the general public, but if you’re dead keen, you can call them up and ask when it is convenient to visit, so they can arrange for someone to show you around.
Some birds, of course, have come to stay. (There are around 350 types of fruit-yielding plants after all!) The wild grasses provide seed-feed for flocks of squeaking red munias and silverbills, which will nest in thorn bushes. Cormorants and darters (five pairs, this year) raise their young on trees growing on the islands in the water body, and there are many nesting sites for locals such as bulbuls, babblers, white-eyes, green pigeons, sunbirds, barbets and parakeets, amongst others. The shikra is probably the most common raptor here and the natty black-shouldered kite can be encountered quite often.
A tour through the medicinal garden can be an eye-opener as plants (some quite common) that can cure everything from heart-disease to baldness are pointed out to you. It makes you realise what a big debt the pharmaceutical industry owes to flora. Also, it makes you tread warily while out in the wilderness, lest you step on something that can save you from a heart attack!
To an untrained urban eye, a walk through the park may be like a walk through a wilderness full of wild tangled high grass, untrimmed bushes, often thorny, wayward bamboos and scraggly trees. But everything has been planted with a purpose; for a scientific reason. And once nature takes root, it is allowed to flourish.
Of course, there have been problems. The neighbours have been noisy, especially during the wedding season and Diwali, scaring away the birds with loudspeakers and crackers. Construction is rampant around the park, closing in on it from all sides. A couple of years ago, after a heavy monsoon, there was a water-logging problem.
Even so, the park is still a work in progress. To get an updated brief, I shanghaied Dr Faiyaz Khudsar, its director and an old friend. Enthusiastic and ebullient as ever, he took me around, showing me new schemes that were being implemented and telling me about plans. They are already improving and broadening the “shallow” water body, giving it a more natural and less landscaped look. Phase two of the project, which involves 300 acres adjoining the Yamuna (and which will be connected by a corridor to the current site) is to have a much larger water body, for larger waterbirds, such as geese and cranes.
Dr Khudsar said, even bureaucrats were beginning to appreciate what had been done here. It was, I thought, the same story as the Metro, put the right people in the right place, don’t interfere and they’ll get the job done.
Now if they can replicate this for the National Zoological Park, Sanjay Van, the Hauz Khas lake (which, was stinking the last time I visited) and the filthy ponds on the Ridge and other water bodies around Delhi; that would really be something.
Ranjit Lal is an author, birdwatcher and animal lover
Former Mhada bosses in dock for land ‘fraud’.....Vijay V Singh
Mumbai: The state government has ordered a probe against five senior IAS officers who headed Mhada’s Mumbai division at various times from 2001 to 2008, because they allegedly helped two developers grab large portions of a 3.11-acre plot in Borivli (East) which costs Rs 200 crore today.
The state housing board itself asked the government to order the inquiry after the city civil court said “fraud” was involved in a case in which the same plot had been divided, leading to Mhada losing land. Nine of these chief officers’ former subordinates are also facing a Mhada inquiry.
Mhada plot was divided without govt approval
Mumbai: The city civil court’s remarks about ‘fraud’ in the Borivli land case led to a hue and cry in the corridors of Mhada, after which Mhada CEO Satish Govai conducted an internal inquiry, which indicated that the senior IAS officers and their juniors had committed grave violations, leading Mhada to lose land.
The officers are accused of dividing the plot without government permission, giving 40% to someone who claimed to have a power-of-attorney from the actual claimant, not checking the actual state of the land and hiding facts (like the presence of slumdwellers), not measuring the land to help a developer grab a portion for an SRA project and not checking SRA documents.
Sachin Ahir, minister of state for housing, said, “We’ll investigate the matter and take action if it’s proved that someone is involved in fraud. It’s not only illegal, but also a case of cheating the state.”
The case dates back to 1970, when the government invited objections to transferring CTS 212 in Magathane to Mhada. With no objections raised, Mhada was given the title. However, in1982-83, Puribai Devraj Khambala and two other people, who remained unnamed, went to the civil court claiming rights over portions of the property.
While Khambala passed away in the late 1990s, Mhada in the early 2000s consented in court to give 40% of the land to her while keeping 60% for itself. In 2005, the court approved this. Mhada officers then allegedly allowed a developer claiming to have Khambala’s power-of-attorney to get the 40%. Later, the developer filed a suit in the civil court saying that he was not getting a clear title.
In 2009, the court passed strict orders against Mhada for misleading the court in an attempt to help the developer get an order in his favour. The court stated that “fraud had been practised by both the sides (Mhada and the developer) in the court”. Mhada’s internal inquiry then followed, which also found that the remaining 60% of the land had been encroached by a builder
LANDING IN TROUBLE
Allegations against the IAS officers:
• Allowed 3.11 acres of land, worth Rs 200 crore today, to be divided without government permission
• 40% of the land was given to a power-of-attorney holder
• Allowed SRA developer grabbed a portion of the remaining 60%
• Hid facts about the land and didn't check SRA documents
RASHTRIYA AYURVEDA VIDYAPEETH
(National Academy of Ayurveda)
(Under Ministry of Health & F.W., Dept. of AYUSH, Govt.of India)
Dhanwantari Bhawan, Road No. 66, Punjabi Bagh (West), New Delhi - 110 026,
CRZ realignment plea trashed....Clara Lewis
MCZMA Will Not Entertain Any Requests For Reclassification
Mumbai: An application for realignment of the imaginary coastal regulation zone line in the Bandra-Khar area has been rejected by the state coastal zone management authority. The Maharashtra State Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) has decided not to allow such requests anymore.
Akhtar Rizvi, a former member of Parliament and a builder, had sought the reclassification and delineation of the high tide line, the low tide line and CRZ for five projects in Bandra on grounds of “error evident on record”. What this means is that the applicant has objected to the area/plot under question being classified as CRZ.
The sea-facing Bandra-Khar area is prime property where market rate is approximately 24,000 per sq feet. There are 12 other projects in the Bandra-Santa Cruz belt where similar reclassifications have been sought.
While CRZ II norms apply in most parts of Mumbai where development can be undertaken as per the BMC’s Development Control Regulations, such development is not allowed in CRZ I and CRZ III areas (traditional fishing areas etc).
Officials said that the Union ministry for environment and forests had already issued a notification in November last year to prepare a new coastal zone management plan for the state. “The BMC has already appointed IRS Chennai to undertake the work in Mumbai city and suburbs. The work started in January and will be completed by the year-end,” said sources. Similar work has also started in other coastal districts of Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg.
Officials said taking up any reclassification exercise now would interfere with the new mapping that is underway. For, any rectification requires a detailed examination on how the error crept in and its rectification. The process involves onsite verification, including corroborative and independent evidence, besides satellite imagery and survey of India maps etc. Hence, the CZMA has decided not to allow any such requests.
Whales are people, too
A declaration of the rights of cetaceans
THE “Declaration of the Rights of Man” was a crucial step in the French revolution. The document, drafted by the Marquis de Lafayette, marked a break with the political past by proposing that everyone, however humble his birth, had certain inalienable civil rights. These were liberty, property, security and resistance to oppression. Merely being a man conferred them.
These days, such rights extend to women as well. But what if you are not human? A session on cetaceans at the AAAS meeting discussed a proposal that whales and dolphins, too, should have rights. The suggestion of the speakers was that the protections these species are afforded by human laws should be extended and recognised not as an indulgence of the human aristocracy towards the bestial peasantry, but as a right as natural as those which humans now afford, in the more civilised parts of the world, to themselves.
The proposition that whales have rights is founded on the idea that they have a high degree of intelligence, and also have self-awareness of the sort that humans do. That is a controversial suggestion, but there is evidence to support it. Lori Marino of Emory University, in Atlanta, Georgia, reviewed this evidence.
One pertinent observation is that dolphins, whales and their kind have brains as anatomically complex as those of humans, and that these brains contain a particular type of nerve cell, known as a spindle cell, that in humans is associated with higher cognitive functions such as abstract reasoning. Cetacean brains are also, scaled appropriately for body size, almost as big as those of humans and significantly bigger than those of great apes, which are usually thought of as humanity’s closest intellectual cousins.
Whales and dolphins have complex cultures, too, which vary from group to group within a species. The way they hunt, the repertoire of vocal signals and even their use of tools differs from pod to pod. They also seem to have an awareness of themselves as individuals. At least some can, for example, recognise themselves in a mirror—a trick that humans, great apes and elephants can manage, but most other species cannot.
Thomas White, of Loyola Marymount University, in Los Angeles, then discussed the ethical implications of what Dr Marino had said. Dr White is a philosopher, and he sought to establish the idea that a person need not be human. In philosophy, he told the meeting, a person is a being with special characteristics who deserves special treatment as a result of those characteristics. In principle, other species can qualify. For the reasons outlined by Dr Marino, he claimed, cetaceans do indeed count as persons and therefore have moral rights—though ones appropriate to their species, which may therefore differ from those that would be accorded a human (for example, the right not to be removed from their natural environment).
Chris Butler-Stroud, of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, in Britain, and Kari Koski of the Whale Museum in San Juan Island, Washington state, then charted some of the hesitant steps already being taken in the direction of establishing cetacean rights. Mr Butler-Stroud showed how the language used by international bodies concerned with these animals is changing. The term “stocks”, for example, with its implication that whales and dolphins are a resource suitable for exploitation, is being overtaken by “populations”, a word that is also applied to people.
Ms Koski gave an even more intriguing example. She told of how a group of killer whales that lives near Vancouver, passing between waters controlled (from a human point of view) by Canada and the United States, have acquired legal protection even though the species as a whole is not endangered. After a battle in the American courts these particular whales have been defined by their culture, and that culture is deemed endangered.
The idea of rights for whales is certainly a provocative one, and is reminiscent of the Australian philosopher Peter Singer’s proposal that human rights be extended to the great apes—chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orang-utans. Like Dr Singer’s suggestion, though, it does ignore one nagging technicality. The full title of the French revolutionary document was “Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen”. No one has yet argued for votes for whales and dolphins. But considering some of the politicians who manage to get themselves chosen by human electorates, maybe it would not be such a bad idea.
Wealthy class more likely to lie and cheat: Study
Washington They may be the more respectable and upstanding members of society, but the rich are also more likely to lie, cheat and engage in other kinds of unethical activities than those in lower classes, claims a new study.
But these findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, do not mean that everyone of high status behaves unethically, nor that everyone in lower society behaves ethically, scientists cautioned.
" We're not saying that if you're rich, you're necessarily unethical, and that if you're poor, you're necessarily ethical, there are lots of instances of increased ethical conduct among upperclass individuals," study researcher Paul Piff, a social psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, was quoted.
However, the researchers suggested that the richs view of the world may be clouded by self- absorption and greed.
As a result, they have fewer scruples than those who have less money to burn.
They came to the conclusion after a series of experiments examining social class and ethics. The first two took place in the street, with motorists secretly being observed as they crossed a busy junction and approached pedestrian crossings.
Those in the flashiest cars, assumed to be wealthy ones, were four times as likely as those in old bangers to cut up other vehicles by barging their way across the junction, the researchers found.
In a series of lab tests that included undergraduates at Berkeley and national online samples of adults, those who considered themselves upper class were found to have greater tendencies to make unethical decisions. This included unrightfully stealing something, lying in a negotiation, cheating at a game of chance to boost their chances of winning cash or endorsing unethical behavior at work, such as stealing cash, receiving bribes and overcharging customers.
" I was surprised at the consistency and strength of all these effects - upper- class individuals often acted unethically three to four times more often than lower- class individuals," Piff said.
Another lab experiment revealed that unethical behaviour was not necessarily inherent to individuals. The researchers had volunteers compare themselves with people with the most or least money, education and respected jobs, thereby subtly putting them into the mindset of someone with a relatively low or high socioeconomic status.
Greed was found to be the driving force. When poorer volunteers were asked to think of ways greed could be beneficial before taking part in the experiment, they acted just as unethically as the wealthy.
" If you take lower socioeconomic status people and just change their social values very subtly, they'll act just as unethically as upperclass individuals," Piff said.
" The patterns of behavior naturally arise from increased wealth and status compared to others." Other studies have shown that upper- class individuals are often less cognisant of others, worse at identifying the emotions others feel, less generous and altruistic, and more disengaged socially.
Such research might support these new findings - it may be easier to act unethically toward others if you are not thinking about how they feel, Piff added.
Charkop mangroves are being destroyed by encroachers: activists....Nikhil M Ghanekar
Losing Green Cover Illegal structures and reclamation have destroyed more than two acres of the 138-acre vegetation; cops register FIR against garage owner
Around 138 acres of mangroves at Charkop, Kandivli (West), adjoining the Manori Creek, are under threat. For the past two months, reclamation, encroachments and bonfires near sector 8 of Charkop village are slowly eating into the rich reserve of mangroves.
“Incidents of unidentified men starting fires near the mangroves have increased. Encroachments usually come up late in the night or on a holiday when it is difficult to get hold of the offender,” said Mili Shetty, a resident of Sai Siddhi building whose home faces the mangroves. “Last Friday, I saw the mangroves on fire and informed the fire brigade.”
Till date, illegal encroachments and reclamation have destroyed more than two acres of the dense vegetation.
Citizen activists said angling, construction of bund walls that prevents creek water from entering the mangroves and land reclamation is posing a danger to the ecosystem that is host to migratory birds such as flamingos, egrets and storks.
In fact, on February 21, the Charkop police filed a first information report (FIR) against Karthik Shetty, a garage owner in the area.
According to the police, Shetty had built an eatery stall and erected a shed made of asbestos sheets 50 metres from the mangroves. This was in violation of norms under the Coastal Regulation Zone I (CRZ).
The CRZ-I rule bans any development within 100 metres of ecologically sensitive areas such as mangroves, marine parks, and national parks.
“During our investigation, we found that Shetty had damaged mangroves and hence we booked him under Environment Protection Act, 1986. He is yet to be arrested,” said Vasant Devarkar, senior inspector, Charkop police station.
Shetty was unavailable for comment.
Kedar Pawar, circle officer, Tehsildar office at Borivli, said, “When we inspected the area near Charkop village, we found that Shetty had destroyed mangroves by constructing illegal structures.”
Environmentalists said the forest department and Tehsildar office needed to maintain a strict vigil in the area. “It was in this area that poachers had killed three flamingos last year,” said Rishi Agarwal, an environmentalist.
Hand-painted tees with messages of peace....Reetika Subramanian
With paint bottles and colour palettes strewn around, Sarla Nadar, 10, diligently painted strokes on white t-shirts on Tuesday. Though he can barely pronounce the word ‘Fukushima,’ Nadar is among a group of underprivileged children who will send hand-painted shirts to young survivors of last year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan’s nuclear town.
“I have sprayed some bright shades to liven the t-shirt. I’ve also included personal messages for my new friends, asking them to keep smiling and forget their problems,” said Nadar. He is among several participants of the ‘1000 Crane Project,’ an initiative of the Goa-based Tara Trust, a non-profit organisation.
The trust authorities are currently holding an art camp in Mumbai, at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) campus, before heading to Bangalore and Ahmedabad. Children are being trained to paint cranes on white T-shirts that will be couriered to the disaster-stricken region of Japan.
“Cranes are a symbol of peace and love. We flagged off the project from a local school in Ladakh in October last year, which had also witnessed catastrophic floods and mudslides in 2010,” said Juhi Pandey, project co-ordinator, Tata Trust.
“Our goal is to finish painting 1,000 T-shirts by the end of this year. We collaborate with local organisations in every city to ensure local participation,” said Pandey.
A participant at the camp, Kiran Naik, 12, a Class 7 student enthusiastically turned a white T-shirt into his canvas. “I am hoping that my friends from Japan will come to visit me once they receive the T-shirts. I will show them around the country and help bring back their lost smiles,” said Naik. “Little children in Japan were left with no homes and schools after last year’s earthquake. We want them to be happy,” he added.
Contractors cannot misuse the new road repair technology....Kunal Purohit
Preventing Sabotage - Civic body makes it compulsory for contractors to enter into a joint venture with tech suppliers
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is hoping to get its act together on the issue of potholes this time. Alleging that its experiments with various technologies have been sabotaged by a cartel of contractors, the civic body has now made it compulsory for contractors to enter into a joint venture (JV) with technology suppliers.
This arrangement, the civic body hopes, will ensure that contractors don’t use the new technology the wrong way and sabotage its performance. In the past, contractors had tried to jeopardise the performance of any new technology introduced on an experimental basis by not using it the right way.
The BMC has finalised four new technologies — Wonder patch, Patchmaker, Road Bond and Carboncor — and is all set to float tenders this week.
HT had, in its October 22 edition, reported how the civic body had been conducting trials on four technologies, out of which two, Wonder patch and Road Bond, had performed well, while Patch maker had got mixed reviews. The fourth, Power Grout, had done badly and has not been considered for this tender.
The JV proposal signifies a tectonic shift in the way the city’s potholes will be filled. For years now, experts and activists had been demanding more scientific methods of filing potholes, a move that had been resisted by officials as well as contractors. Finally, yielding to public outrage last year following the state of the city’s roads, the civic body decided to test technologies that could be used on the city’s roads, during the monsoons.
Additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta said, “We are hoping that our experimentation with modern technologies, which use cold-mixes, is successful in filling potholes more effectively. We will be inviting bids from contractors soon.”
Said a civic official: “This time, there will be two options — either the technology supplier can bid by himself or can enter into a joint venture with the supplier.”
Contractors, however, are not happy. Said a major road contractor, who did not wish to be named: “The BMC should have been more democratic in their approach. In this new system, it’s the suppliers who call the shots and we contractors will have no choice but to just follow them. What if the technology proves to be ineffective? We would stand to lose a lot.”
Chairman of the standing technical advisory committee (STAC) NV Merani said: “The BMC should ensure that these technology suppliers have a greater say in supervising the work of the contractors.”
Meanwhile, of the total tender cost of Rs 50 crore, around Rs10 crore has been kept for using the conventional method of hot-mixes.
Freedom fabric gets a fashionable makeover....CHITRA NARAYANAN
By the time the wholly handmade Khadi cloth travels from the dusty villages of Etah to Delhi's Ekmatra, it has turned into an elegant brand statement.
In Delhi's swish Lodhi Colony market, near designers Rajesh Pratap Singh's and Manish Arora's boutiques, is Ekmatra, a store promoting designer khadi apparel and furnishings. The elegantly cut kurtas in ivory and cream and soft as a baby's cheeks, the trendy bags, and the stylish table cloths and bed linens on display here are far removed from the coarse and rough cloth one associates the freedom fabric with.
“Unlike the khadi that you get at the Khadi Bhandars, my products are not apologetic-looking and neither are my prices,” declares Manoj Chaturvedi, Chairman, Sarvoday Ashram and the promoter of Ekmatra and Khadi Line, two branded khadi stores that have already caught the imagination of Delhi's discerning dressers.
While Ekmatra's products priced between Rs 999 and Rs 6,000 is targeted at a premium clientele, Khadi Line, priced between Rs 495 and Rs 1,595, stocks a more mass range. Chaturvedi is now planning to take the stores to more cities and declares that his mission is to reposition Khadi as a fabric to make a statement with. “Understated elegance” is what we are striving for, he says.
Of course, others have trodden this path earlier – of repositioning the fabric. If designer Devika Bhojwani pioneered the attempts to give khadi a contemporary new look in the 1990s, then the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) under then Micro Small and Medium Industries Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia had in the early 2000s famously got designers such as Rohit Bal to give the fabric a high profile. Even today the KVIC's stores do stock the designer khadi creations. So why would Chaturvedi succeed where the efforts of others have sputtered? Well, perhaps, the service edge that he brings in his private retail outlets (unlike the KVIC stores which down shutters at government timings and have indifferent staff). And then as he explains, “We are the first brand-centric corporate in the Indian khadi sector.”
Also, he says, his Ekmatra, despite its trendy cuts and colours, is still fairly affordable chic.
The Rhodes scholar has also got young blood in, having persuaded both his son and daughter to leave their lucrative management jobs to join in the khadi movement. He also points to the unique brand ambassadors the store has chosen – rather than go the celebrity route, the store has startling black and white pictures of the village women artisans who have spun out these dream creations from their humble charkhas.
He invites you on a journey to Etah, to see firsthand where and how these weaves are coming from, and how he is bridging the khadi heritage inherited from his grandfather with modernity.
Village Warps and Wefts
For a district that's barely 70 km away from industrialised Agra, it's quite a different India that meets you in dusty Etah. The ubiquitous mobile phone shops and white goods showrooms notwithstanding, life seems to have stopped some fifty years ago in this UP district, where power is available only a few hours of the day. “Infrastructure lags behind, there are hardly any industries here,” says young Parth Chaturvedi, who's now into the family venture too, pointing to a lone HUL factory in the distance. The villages around Etah depend mostly on farming to earn their daily living.
It was the lack of employment opportunities here that led his great-grandfather Rohan Lal to found Sarvoday Ashram in 1951, at the instigation of Acharya Vinoba Bhave, to create jobs for the rural people.
For a good four decades the non-profit organisation, which had trustees such as Lal Bahadur Shastri and Acharya Kripalani, ran like a typical NGO, content with the institutional and rural sales that khadi enjoyed, and not doing much marketing. “Institutions like the Railways, the Army had to typically give first preference to khadi to source orders for their dusters, towels and so on,” says Manoj Chaturvedi.
But around ten years ago, Chaturvedi decided to change all that, when he set up Khadi Line in Lajpat Nagar. It was successful and gradually they scaled up to two stores. But it's now, with his children guiding him, that he has really set in motion the ambitious scaling up and retail expansion plan, talking of 25 stores soon (we have signed up two as we speak – in Chandigarh and Pune, he says). From Rs 12.5 crore clocked in 2010-11, he is looking to double the turnover by next year.
And, while at the front end, more retail stores get added, at the back end in Etah, more women are being encouraged to join the fold. Innovations such as solar charkhas are being tested at the ashram.
Today there are 3,250 spinners, all women, who are affiliated to Sarvoday, which claims to be the largest single khadi manufacturer in the country, ahead of Gujarat's Saurashtra Rachnatmak Samiti at Rajkot.
But only a few hundred are spinning at the sprawling 140-acre Ashram premise. As Chaturvedi points out, in backward Uttar Pradesh, getting women to step out of their hearth and home to go out to work is a difficult proposition. Around 13 years ago, he describes how he ambitiously set up a 1.2 lakh sq. ft. of working sheds for the local village women to come in and weave in peace. But very few came in.
That's when he decided to give the women charkhas at their home, and set up collection centres in their villages where they could hand in the finished fabric and collect the raw cotton.
At the Ekmatra showrooms he also tries to communicate the story of how these pieces of cloth get created. “The living psyche in these villages is that the mother-in-law sits on the charkha for a bit, then the daughter- in-law takes over and when she gets up to do her chores, her teenage daughter starts spinning. The velocity of spinning is different in each case, and that shows in the fabric,” he describes, showing you the stubs and knots in a fabric. “These are not defects, but an inherent beauty of the creation process,” he says.
For those women who have completed 10 years of weaving with the Ashram, Chaturvedi has built a working shed in their own homes. Gradually, everybody will get one, he promises. It seems to be quite a looked-forward-to incentive, though the women don't seem to understand the “dynamics behind the rewards”. At Rarpatti village, where we visit, the women folk set up a clamour – “I didn't have a BPL card, is this why I didn't get a shed?”
Here, also as you hear first-hand how much some of the women depend on the charkha for their existence – there's widow Satyavati for instance, who says she supports her two children - you realise that Gandhiji's freedom fabric is still spinning incomes for the rural poor.
Just address an email to email@example.com
Jump to a particular message